Wednesday, July 22, 2009
The Hairpin Turns of Life
I wish I was a better mountain biker.
Our place in Utah nestles up to the Mid Mountain Trail, a 26 mile single-track path that winds its way around the mountains of Park City and drops off somewhere by the Canyons Resort. It can be an exhausting workout that keeps your heart rate peaking and dipping for hours on end. I love to get on my old Specialized and just experience all the trail has to offer. From minute to minute the scenery changes --from aspens, to slate rock cliffs, to valleys of wildflowers and soft dirt paths, I'd consider it a "Best Of" in Utah.
However, with any sloping mountain bike trail, the rider will encounter the dreaded hairpin turn. You know what I'm talking about. "Switchbacks" is another word for it: those bends in the trail that turn it's victims upward or downward in the opposite direction they were just proceeding. Not quite so hairy for the Patagonia-clad hiker, but treacherous for the weekend mountain biker like myself. I struggle with just how to balance while going downhill, turning, and avoiding the hidden tree roots below.
I received great advice from my coach DeeAnn Smith on how to navigate these potential trail hazards. When descending, anticipate the turn, look ahead, break before the curve and then turn your body with the bike in a fluid motion.
What you don't know is DeeAnn is a killer mountain biker who loves to go fast. Really fast. Her advice has helped me become more comfortable on the bike. And as I rode last week, I realized how appropriate her advice was not just on the trail, but in life as well. Just like on your mountain bike, anticipate those hairpin turns in life. When things are going along smooth and easy and you've caught your breath, there will be twists and turns that throw your off your game. But keep your head up, look forward and you will get past it. And for a minute you can enjoy yourself, until the next hairpin comes along.
Tomorrow would've been my dad's 76th birthday. I miss him everyday. His death was a personal hairpin turn that caught us all off guard. But when I ride my bike in Utah, and soak in the beauty of all that is around me, I feel closer to him than I do at any other time in my daily life. So I will take that turn. Look forward. And go.
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